A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - June 19, 2013
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To the best Virginia organization for ethics in the Commonwealth.
Compiled by Sue Lindsey
Virginia has formally asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a Portsmouth judge's ruling that blocks new tolls on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office Tuesday submitted an appeal in the tunnel toll case - an expected development - as well as motions seeking a fast-tracking of the matter and an order allowing toll collection to start Feb. 1.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe toured a nearly complete station on Metrorail’s new Silver Line on Tuesday to highlight his support for Metro’s $6 billion expansion and contrast that with the opposition his challenger in the race, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), has expressed toward the project. “Let’s be crystal clear: We were all for it. Our opponents were all against it,” McAuliffe said. “In fact, Ken Cuccinelli actually said that he would kill it. He wanted to kill it — the only statewide official of either political party who came out against this issue.”
Democratic candidates are descending on South Hampton Roads Wednesday when two statewide nominees -- Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam -- plan to be in Chesapeake and local legislative candidates separately gather in Norfolk. The party's respective nominees for governor and lieutenant governor are scheduled to appear at a residential recycling company to discuss how the General Assembly's approval this year of a $6 billion road funding plan benefits companies that travel state and local roads.
Ready for some really inside baseball? There’s a debate about debates going on in the Virginia governor’s race. But now there’s even a debate over the debating about debates. After the Times-Dispatch asked Democrat Terry McAuliffe Monday in Richmond whether he objected to a candidate-to-candidate question component with Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the upcoming Virginia Bar Association debate July 20, McAuliffe tried to dismiss the issue as “silly.”
Local Democrats have nominated a Navy veteran to challenge Del. John Cosgrove in an upcoming special election for a Virginia Senate seat in South Hampton Roads, after a Chesapeake City Councilwoman and a Suffolk attorney each considered running. Kerry Holmes, a Suffolk defense contractor, has been selected to represent the party in the Aug. 6 special election for the post being vacated by retiring Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake.
Ralph Northam's political fate remains uncertain, but Democrats and Republicans are already identifying potential candidates for his Norfolk-based swing seat in the state Senate as they map out contigencies if he's elected lieutenant governor. One name GOP operatives are buzzing about is Thelma Drake, a former congresswoman and state legislator who now works as director of the state Department of Rail and Public Transportation in Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration.
A national figure in the Democratic Party has endorsed a Culpeper candidate for Virginia House of Delegates. Former presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean Tuesday announced his support for Democrat Traci Dippert in her bid for the Virginia House of Delegates 30th District seat currently held by Del. Ed Scott, R-Madison.
To help schools meet the new requirement to evaluate teachers based on student achievement, Virginia officials created a method for calculating how much students learned in a year. By extension, they believe that the same method can show how well teachers are doing their jobs. The Board of Education recommended that schools use these “student growth percentiles” — or measures of student progress based on standardized test scores — as one of several ways to rate teachers.
As the Senate debates a bipartisan immigration reform proposal that would eventually put 11 million undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, a House committee led by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-6th, is moving toward approving a tough enforcement-focused immigration bill.
U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, signed on to a letter calling on U.S. Attorney Genral Eric Holder to resign or for President Barack Obama to fire him. The letter addressed to Obama and signed by 47 members of Congress asks for Holder's removal of office for reports that the Justice Department has targeted reporters at the Associated Press and Fox; FBI participation in the National Security Agency secret program of collecting phone records to monitor terroist activity; and last year's furor over "Operation Fast and Furious."
Smithfield Foods is shuttering its Portsmouth hot dog and deli meat plant in August, an executive at the company said. "Plant will close on August 16" in keeping with plans that were formalized in 2011, said Jeff Gough, Smithfield's senior vice president for human resources. As a result, 122 employees will be laid off, according to a notification filed with the state.
State environmental regulators have cited a Chesterfield County businessman for allowing runoff to damage a stream his company already has a permit to destroy. Bill Stinson is operating a wood mulch operation on the western Chesterfield property where he has permits to a construction and demolition debris landfill.
When the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s board of directors meets on Wednesday, members are expected to get a briefing on construction of the Silver Line rail extension as well as a report on the latest air traffic statistics. Though a staff report indicates that ‘substantial completion’ of the first phase of the rail project is expected in September, it’s possible that date may be changing. Last week, The Post’s Dana Hedgpeth reported that a top federal transportation official has raised concerns about what he says were unauthorized changes made to safety systems for Metro’s new Silver Line. Expect questions about those concerns during the board meeting.
A proposed parkway that would connect Prince William and Loudoun counties has seen a groundswell of opposition in recent weeks, with many residents’ concerns centering around similar themes. Opponents have argued that the proposed Bi-County Parkway, a 10-mile state thoroughfare that would connect I-66 in Prince William with Route 50 in Loudoun, would adversely impact nearby Civil War grounds, threaten Prince William’s protected rural area, and mean a traffic nightmare for nearby residents.
A federal grant could mean a revolution in train transit for Chesterfield County and dramatic changes to the landscape of historic Ettrick. The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors recently approved applying for a $10 million federal grant that could possibly turn the Amtrak station in Ettrick into a major multi-modal station for the region. The effort, if successful, could potentially derail Petersburg's efforts to host a major railroad station within its city limits.